The free-standing kitchen island is more than an additional work station.
It can also be a gathering spot for family and friends, a kitchen décor game-changer, and a place to store or show off items you might otherwise keep packed away.
The key is space, said Radka Sumberova, design consultant for Suran Built Inc., an award-winning remodeling design firm based in Crystal Lake.
Standard clearance between the island and any other object used to be 36 inches; that will still do, but now 42 inches is more common to allow for two people to pass each other. Less than 36 inches, she said, and an island makes the kitchen too crowded.
If it fits, the island offers obvious advantages: more countertop space and more storage underneath. But it can be a whole lot more.
Install an extra sink and/or cooktop, and you expand your food preparation and cleanup area. Extend the countertop to create an overhang, and you have a breakfast bar with stools.
How you have your island designed is equally important.
“It can be an architectural piece that really dresses up the kitchen,” Sumberova said.
“It can add a visual element that draws attention” even if the countertop, side color or wood stain is different than the rest of the kitchen, she said. It can have legs, shelving, stylish millwork, pullouts.
It also can add more convenience and function to the kitchen. For example, it can include a wine rack or freezer drawer for specialty items. Some have dishwashers, though Sumberova said this is not common.
She has, however, seen a small island mounted on wheels that can be moved around.
“It’s more than a big box. Use your imagination. Don’t get stuck in how it was done in the past,” she said.
Suran Built Inc.
30 N. Williams St
Crystal Lake, IL 60014